I tried to make this one of my goals for the last year, but I couldn't find the right time for such a ride. This year however, everything worked out well. Almost everything. Anyway, the bike was ready, I was ready, Elka and Dr. J were at the Cape staying at my in-laws house, so I thought that I could surprise them, take a day off on Friday and ride my bike from Arlington to Barnstable.
The big question, unanswered until the last moment, was the weather. I learned already that I couldn't trust the forecasts this spring and summer. This week's weather was very unpredictable. Either hot and cloudy or rainy and humid. I didn't mind riding in rain, but at the same time I wouldn't be happy if it was raining the entire ride. Fortunately, my bad luck ended and the weather was nearly perfect - warm, not too humid and mostly cloudy. It kept me cooler and the only time I had to wipe off sweat from my forehead was during a couple of steep climbs around Milton and Manomet.
My route - Arlington to Barnstable.
I started with planning my route using RideWithGPS. I wanted to use as many bike paths as possible but since there aren't really any in my direction outside of Boston, I had to rely on some quiet local roads. Some roads I chose were just great places to ride, namely Harland St in Milton, Spring St from Rockland to Hanson and Oak/Grove St in Halifax - very little traffic and decent pavement. Some places were less pleasant such as Rt 3A from Manomet to Sagamore Bridge or Granite St in Braintree - heavy traffic, no shoulders.
There are some things I would change if riding this route in the future. The most important one would be to skip Rt 3A (State Rd) from Manomet and ride Old Sandwich Rd instead. Unfortunately, it seems that some things can't be easily changed. There seem to be no good place to cross I-93 without going too much around. I picked Granite St hoping that by the time I get there, the morning traffic will still be mild. I was right. Leaving early from Arlington was the best thing to do. I left my house at 5:45am and the city was slowly waking up, even though it was already pretty bright out there as the sun rose around 5:15am.
BU Bridge in early morning sun.
Riding through Boston at that time was a pleasure - very little traffic, morning breeze, mild air temperature. What surprised me though was number of people jogging along the Charles River at 6 in the morning. A popular location for early risers, for sure. I continued across the BU Bridge, along Jamaicaway, through Mattapan and towards Blue Hills in Milton, where I rode Chickatawbut Rd to Granite St and crossed I-93.
On the road through Blue Hills.
The view from Blue Hills. Boston is straight ahead.
At this point when I passed Braintree, the traffic was pretty light and I was moving faster than expected. My average speed was about 23km/h (14mph) and soon I reached Rockland, Hanson, Pembroke and then, at 9:30am, I reached Plymouth. Since originally I planned being in Plymouth about an hour later, having plenty of time, I decided to stop for breakfast. A thick egg sandwich and some water was plenty. The town was quiet and beautiful. There was a very light breeze from the ocean. Refreshing. I will have to come back to Plymouth some other time.
This fellow cyclist was on his way to somewhere far - judging from the trailer.
The next goal was to reach the Sagamore Bridge - the only sensible way of crossing the Cape Cod Channel, unless I was planning on swimming across. I made a mistake by taking Rt 3A, instead of some local roads. The 3A was very busy, with no shoulders and the long climb to the village of Manomet was a bit strenuous at this point of my ride. I was moving slowly at 13km/h (8mph), being passed by multiple trucks. Definitely the least favorite part of the ride. At 11:40am, I crossed the Sagamore Bridge.
View from the Sagamore Bridge. Heavy overcast but no rain.
Next, I moved through the town of Sandwich and continued along Rt 6A east. Once I merged with Rt 149 I recognized a familiar territory. My destination was just a few kilometers away and I reached it at 1:00pm, after riding 136km (~85mi). Interestingly, I was less tired than after riding Barnstable-Chatham-Barnstable route (100km = 60mi) the last year. Well, my knees were sore for the reminder of the day but I wasn't exhausted. It was the longest distance I rode on bike so far and I don't plan on breaking this record for a long time (if ever).
Historic watermill in Sandwich center.
When it comes to the bike setup, it worked pretty well. Fenders were useless - it didn't rain, but having them on the bike was a kind of bad weather insurance. Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires (well, the front one only) were great. Smooth rolling and usable even on the few dirt paths. The Pika saddlebag (I have to write a review soon) was all I needed. I managed to stuff my spare tube, tools, clothes for change and lightweight shoes in it. The rest - a camera, phone, cue cards, some maps and granola bars, I placed in a small handlebar bag. I took two water bottles and to one of them I added two Nuun tablets - something I tried for the first time. I really like them. They are supposed to replenish lost electrolytes without sugar. And once dissolved in water, they have a great taste. I bought more water bottles in Plymouth and added more Nuun tablets in them. I also had a single packet of Cliff Shot Razz Gel. I guess this is a kind of thing road cyclists like to use a lot. I got this packet as a free sample with another online parts order. Maybe it was because of its raspberry flavoring, but I doubt it - the gel quickly ended up in a trash bin. The taste was disgusting. Like eating a huge spoon full of sugar with a fake fruity flavor. I think I stick to my chocolate granola bars.
Well, that's it. I am happy I managed to finally ride this route. I am sure I deserved a pint of good beer.